In part this appears to be true, but overall the government is being pulled in 2 main directions: 1 by fossil fuel interests and 2 by pressure to come up with policies that will implement its climate commitments (eg the path to complying with CCC’s 6th Carbon Budget). This page looks at some examples of both.

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11may21 UK taking ‘green’ advice from energy giant suing Dutch for phasing out coal | openDemocracy New British foreign investment council also includes banks with billions invested in fossil fuels, a weapons manufacturer and a Tory donor Claire Provost Peter Geoghegan Lou Ferreira Boris Johnson’s new investment council includes a subsidiary of a German energy giant that is suing the Netherlands for €1.4bn for phasing out coal.
The Investment Council, which launched last month to drum up foreign investment into the UK, has talked up the importance of ‘sustainable’ investment and ‘green industries’ ahead of the COP26 Climate Summit.
But the council’s advisers include RWE Renewables, whose parent company took the Netherlands to a World Bank arbitration tribunal after the Dutch government decided to phase out coal.
The government’s announcement of this new advisory body quoted RWE Renewables CEO Anja-Isabel Dotzenrath saying that “the council will create the right framework for sustainable investment” in the UK.
Other members of the council, which aims to increase foreign direct investment in Britain, include executives of giant banks that have together invested more than £300bn in fossil fuels over the past five years.
Scientists for Global Responsibility’s assistant director, Andrew Simms, told openDemocracy: “A new, sustainable future will not be built by relying on people trapped in old ways of thinking… A meaningful transition to a clean energy system can’t be well guided by those with fossil fuels still in their business veins.”
Farhana Yamin, one of the world’s best-known climate change lawyers, said: “The financial sector funds climate destruction and needs to clean up its act. It makes no sense for senior figures from complicit financial institutions being put in public positions. They have a massive conflict of interest.” … [well worth reading it all – including re the ECT]

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10may21 This is copied and pasted from Carbon Brief’s email of this date, and shows a reaction to pressure direction 2 above:

Electricity bills could be slashed in green drive to ditch gas boilers
Emma Gatten, The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph reports that the UK government is set to announce “within weeks” that “electricity bills could be slashed to persuade homeowners to abandon gas boilers by 2035 under green plans”. It adds: “Nearly a quarter of consumers’ bills currently cover taxes to pay for policies, including subsidies for renewable energy and fuel vouchers for poorer households. Ministers believe these additional costs are acting as a major barrier to get people to heat their homes on low carbon electricity alternatives such as heat pumps, at a time when gas prices are lower. The government wants heat pumps to replace 600,000 gas boilers every year from 2028, and will announce that costs will be removed from electricity in the coming years in its upcoming heat and buildings strategy…A consultation announced in the strategy will decide how much of the 23% of policy costs will be removed from electricity, and how the £10bn they bring in will be recouped by the Treasury. Options to recover the costs include transferring the levies directly to gas bills, or adding them to general taxation, but the government is likely to be wary of any policy that increases taxes or drives up fuel bills.”

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14apr21 Climate crisis: Boris Johnson ‘too cosy’ with vested interests to take serious action | Climate change | The Guardian Fiona Harvey

Boris Johnson’s government is “too cosy” with vested interests in business to take strong action on the climate crisis, the author of a report on “the polluting elite” has warned.

Peter Newell, a professor of international relations at the University of Sussex, said: “We are never going to have change while these actors are so close to government. The government is not willing to take on these interests as it has close ties to big industries, including fossil fuels. There is a definite reluctance to take them on.”

He warned: “The beneficiaries of the status quo are in no rush to change. If we are serious about the Paris agreement, we have to disrupt that cosy relationship between business and government.” …

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12apr21 Boris Johnson told to get grip of UK climate strategy before Cop26 | Environment | The Guardian Fiona Harvey

Boris Johnson must urgently take control of the UK’s presidency of vital UN climate talks, amid a shower of green policy setbacks and growing concern over the lack of a coherent all-government climate strategy, senior international figures have said.

The Cop26 climate summit is viewed as one of the last chances to put the world on track to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, of holding global heating well below 2C, and preferably no more than 1.5C, above pre-industrial levels. There are just over six months left before the crunch talks are scheduled to begin in Glasgow in November.

Major figures in the global climate talks, including veteran diplomats, scientists and respected campaigners, have expressed concern to the Guardian that while the UK is making progress on agreement at Cop26, a series of missteps by the government is in danger of undermining the UK’s leadership and the success of the talks.

Christiana Figueres, the former UN climate chief who led the 2015 Paris climate agreement, warned: “There have been recent decisions in the UK that are not aligning with the ambition of the net zero target. It is worrisome. There are raised eyebrows among world leaders watching the UK.”

Mary Robinson, chair of the Elders group of independent global leaders, and a former UN climate envoy, said poor countries were questioning the UK’s actions, particularly in cutting overseas aid. “People are shocked [by the aid cut],” she said. “The poorest countries are the moral authority at the Cop, they drive the urgency, they drive the credibility. You need them fully behind the UK presidency to get the good ambition needed.”

Emmanuel Guérin, …

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It is disgraceful that the UK government, though it signed the 2015 Paris Agreement half a decade ago, does not yet recognise it as having any legal power within the domestic parts of UK law and policies.

30mar21 UK criticised for ignoring Paris climate goals in infrastructure decisions | Climate change | The Guardian by Fiona Harvey:

UK criticised for ignoring Paris climate goals in infrastructure decisions

Exclusive: scientists write to ministers and supreme court over recent ruling in Heathrow case

Fiona Harvey Environment correspondent Tue 30 Mar 2021 09.36 BST

Prominent scientists and lawyers have said the UK government’s decision to ignore the Paris climate agreement when deciding on major infrastructure projects undermines its presidency of UN climate talks this year.

The experts – including the former Nasa scientist Jim Hansen, the former UK government chief scientist Sir David King and the economist Prof Jeffrey Sachs – have written to ministers and the supreme court about a recent ruling that the government need not take the UK’s obligations under the treaty into account when setting policy, made in a case concerning the proposed expansion of Heathrow airport.

… …

[well worth reading the full article via this link: UK criticised for ignoring Paris climate goals in infrastructure decisions | Climate change | The Guardian ]

On Friday 19th March Eden District Council’s planning committee voted to approve two planning applications for an adjacent pair of so-called “gas peaking plants” at Shap, by 6 votes to 4. This blog-post demonstrates how the current planning system needs to be urgently changed to allow greenhouse gas emissions and climate to be valid and admissible ‘material planning considerations’ for all planning applications especially those for high carbon proposals such as these. This post also quotes comments by EDC Planning Officers that are especially of interest because they explicitly say that current planning policy is not up-to-date on climate – even when compared with what government say and the general public want. That appears to be a step forward! (even though we lost the vote).

Firstly here is a screen-grab of part of my objection letter which shows the scale of CO2 emissions that would result:

Quotes from EDC Planning Officers that are of particular interest:

The first quote confirms what we have known for too many years: that the current planning system does not regard carbon emissions and climate impacts to be ‘admissible’ or “relevant”(!!) (in planning-speak) as ‘material planning considerations’ regardless of how huge the carbon emissions of the proposals might be:

EDC Planning Officer Nick Atkinson (Planning Services Development Manager):

2:31:00 “A couple of points I would like to make with reference to the Council’s plan, the ecological and climate emergency that was declared: I think we have discussed this before and I had advised previously that they are not relevant considerations in the determination of this planning application, of this or any other planning applications.”

These quotes from Ian Irwin (Principal Planning Officer Development Management) are of special interest as they agree that there is a “discrepancy” and “time-lag” between what the general public and government say about the need for climate action and the current state of planning policy with regards climate. An understatement! (from 2:34:22 onwards):

“One is that you have made a really salient point, in that the direction of travel in the general public and what a lot of what the government is saying [re climate & carbon emissions]: that needs to be borne out in actual policy, there probably is a discrepancy in what the feeling is where policy is at, and ultimately we have to make decisions on what the policy is at the time, frustrating as that may be.”

“I think you’ve hit the nail on the head: There is a lag between what people may want
[re climate & carbon emissions], whether that is an overwhelming majority or not I don’t really know because I’m not a politician. But where policy is currently at, and I’m afraid that we have to base our decisions on the development plan and the NPPF is really clear on that.”

These quotes could be useful to us in our efforts to put pressure on government to update planning policy and the whole planning system to ensure that greenhouse gas emissions and climate impacts are admissible planning considerations – as they should have been made so at the time of the Climate Change Act 2008 if not well before then.

Planning Officer Nick Atkinson said that the applications would also be subject to the Environment Agency permitting system and so had to pass both hurdles and “neither takes precedent”. This raises the question to us as objectors: To what extent does the EA have regard to UK’s climate commitments with regards the large carbon emissions of these applications?

Note that a Planning Officer made clear to the ctte what we expected one of them would say: That they should not take into account any possibility of future applications for “better” alternatives i.e. the low to zero carbon alternatives that we had referred to.

Scope for expressing objections at the committee meeting was highly restricted by the Chair

The Chair only allowed one 5 minute objection to the first of the two applications by an individual member of the public (that is, in addition to the 5 minutes by the spokesperson for Shap Parish Council).
Objectors on climate were happy that I should be the person to speak that 5 minutes objection – and wholly on emissions and climate. And the speaker representing Shap Parish Council included his own climate-related points and those of the other climate-objectors into SPC’s 5 minutes together with other points of objection.
In the preceding days we insisted that there should be more than one objector speaking against this application (in addition to Shap Parish Council) but the Chair repeatedly refused. No reason was given but it was obvious that the Chair wanted to rush these 2 applications through (due to a large number of applications for the ctte to decide on), and the Planning Officers had recommended that the ctte members approve the 2 Shap gas plant applications. However he allowed the climate-objector who was refused 5 minutes for the 1st of the 2 applications to speak his 5 minutes for the 2nd of the 2 applications – which rendered his contribution ineffective as regards the voting (because the vote on the 2nd application would be largely pre-determined by the vote on the 1st). We considered this undemocratic and a restriction of the amount of climate-related (or other) information that the ctte members could hear that was in opposition to the proposals.

Here is a copy of the words I spoke:

Henry Adams 5 minutes presentation against the 2 “gas peaking plants” for Shap

Hi my name is Dr Henry Adams, and today I’ll be speaking about the huge CO2 emissions I’ve calculated – that would result from the so-called gas peaking plants, in relation to the wider context of the climate emergency we face, and the urgent and steep reductions in emissions that we must make by 2030 and 2037.

The carbon emissions that the gas engines would produce are shockingly huge: at 90,000 tonnes of CO2 per year!
To give you a comparison: that is equal to the emissions of over 11 thousand people per year, which is over two-thirds of the population of Penrith.

This would make a mockery of the carbon savings that many thousands of residents would make if they did the right thing to replace their gas boilers with electric-powered heat pumps – to reduce carbon emissions from burning gas. Only to find out that, to produce some of that electricity the gas-burning engines at Shap had produced more emissions than the thousands of households had saved, and their efforts had been nullified.

The proposals if approved would also make a mockery of Eden District Council’s understanding and interpretation of the words ‘Climate Emergency’, which is what it declared in 2019, as well as whether it truly does share the aim of the The Zero Carbon Cumbria Partnership:to make Cumbria the first carbon-neutral county in the UK, and by 2037.

So why would the emissions be so large?
2 reasons:

One: the very high carbon intensity of the proposed gas engines – over half that of coal power stations, and two: the long running-time per year of 4,000 hours – which is 46 percent of each year – much more than the duration a gas peaking plant would normally run.

So this project is designed to act as a small gas power station with a capacity large enough to gain the bigger profits from the capacity market auction, much more than just the grid balancing market for peaking plants. So the claim of supporting renewable energy generation could be the opposite of reality: as the gas engines could remove some supply-space for future renewable projects. Or at the very least will add to the carbon intensity of the local grid.

The carbon intensity of the proposed gas engines is a huge 500 grams CO2 per kilowatt-hour.

This is as much as 60% of the carbon intensity of a coal-fired power station, and around 100 times that of renewables such as wind and solar.

Also it is over double the average carbon intensity of UK’s grid over the last 3 years, and 5 times higher than the official target for the grid average to be by 2030 of 100 grams per kilowatt-hour.

Electricity North West accept that the balancing function for demand peaks could be provided by much lower carbon technologies, and here are some examples of many:

These include big batteries and time-shifting Demand Side Response methods. And the increasing shift to electric cars would reduce demand peaks by using ‘Vehicle-to-Grid’ with Smart Grid methods.
Also as Jaki Bell explained in her statement, heat pumps are unlikely to increase demand peaks, unlike the applicants would have you believe.

For longer duration grid balancing, new methods of energy storage are being developed such as flow batteries, gravity batteries, pumped hydro, liquid air and compressed air.

Climate scientists agree that the world is heading to cross +1.5 degrees centigrade by around 2030, unless we reduce most of our carbon emissions by 2030.


It is widely accepted from an IPCC report that the world must at least halve its emissions by 2030 for any chance of staying below 1.5, and for wealthy developed nations such as the UK this means much steeper reductions:
Climate scientist Professor Kevin Anderson has worked out that for the UK this would mean reducing emissions by more than 10% per year this decade, and that to even keep below +2 degrees C we “must” in his words “initiate a rapid phase out of all fossil fuels including natural gas. [And] This needs to begin now …”.

This proposal does the opposite.

It will lead to infrastructure that we will need to remove well before 2030 and should be rejected now.

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The above text of the words I spoke is also online as a pdf here:
HenryAdams-5minute-talk-for-2ndOctober-DCR-ctte-mtg-re-WCM- v6-as-spoken.pdf (plus.com)

And here is a pdf of my objection letter:
www.dragonfly1.plus.com/Henry-Adams-Objection-letter-to-EDC-vs-gas-peaking-plants-at-Shap-cv16dec20rd.pdf

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Response of the councillor members of the committee

(Note that points made by Planning Officers that I have quoted above were made after the two 5 minute presentations by myself and the SPC spokesperson, and in answer to a question brought up by a cllr)

One cllr expressed shock at the scale of the emissions that the 2 gas plants would produce.
(My calculations had obviously made a worthwhile impression).

Another asked if EDC could insist the emissions be offset. Answer: not possible.

Another asked whether EDC could insist that use would be reduced as more renewable energy and/or low carbon alternatives became available. Answer again: not possible: up to the Environment Agency.

The Green Party cllr asked good questions and ended with very moving words asking other cllrs to consider the impact of extra carbon emissions on those who don’t have a say here such as our offspring.

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So where do we go from here?

Clearly the planning policy needs to be urgently changed so as to make GHG emissions and climate admissible as planning considerations. This is an updatable section for collating thoughts on what needs to be changed in more detail and what actions could be carried out to achieve these changes. Some preliminary thoughts/notes:

The government has a “consultation” on the NPPF:

We need to consider whether this might be a suitable vehicle to help push for:
1. the planning system to make GHG emissions and climate into admissible planning considerations (and important ones too) for any planning application as standard, and
2. also to give the climate and ecological emergency/considerations over-arching primacy over other factors (at least for high carbon emissions projects).
And to make it of definite planning relevance to be able to refer to (and consider) not just the CCA2008 as amended but also to the latest CCCuk recommendations such as the 6th Carbon Budget and the amended pathway(s) towards it, and to meeting the temperature goals statement of the Paris Agreement to which UK has signed, and UK government’s recent NDC-related declaration on the % reductions in emissions it aims to achieve by 2030.
3. Within wording it is important to include UK’s international (not just national) climate commitments such as stated in the Paris Agreement (I must find that statement), to include consideration of especially end-use emissions of products exported from the UK (such as any fossil fuels extracted in the UK). This is because the CCA2008 focuses on UK’s territorial emissions and has inadequate reference to emissions the UK causes beyond UK’s territorial boundaries.

A problem is that the NPPF “consultation” does not include consultation specifically on this point or on NPPF paragraphs specifically related to this. But we should raise this point regardless.


Charts (screen-grabs from my objection letter):

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LOCATION:

(thank you Jon for this)

A test of mettle: Securing a future for a green UK steel industry (common-wealth.co.uk)

When this appeared my initial reaction before fully reading it was some excitement: Just what we want – a strong positive voice including from steel-workers – for UK’s steel industry to not just survive but thrive – by making the essential changes needed to reduce its huge emissions, instead of a stubborn head in the sand ignorance. Though tinged with my prior knowledge that steelworkers and/or their unions had shown (not surprisingly) that they feared job-losses at Port Talbot if the blast furnaces were merely swopped with EAFs. But if in addition to EAFs, H-DRI plants were to be built instead of blast furnaces, would they then let go of the blast furnaces?

Yes initially the report has instant appeal, but on closer examination my fears were realised: it’s a bit of a Trojan Horse for CCS to prolong use of at least some coal-fed blast furnaces:

I reckon the bad points in the recent Common Wealth online report ‘A test of mettle’ outweigh its good points, because text on p.16 and pp37-38 in particular, strongly and wrongly push for CCS. This is hardly surprising: unions want BF’s prolonged for as long as possible, and show no concern that prolonging/expanding coking coal mines abroad will do harm to people, wildlife and environment (harms Anne Harris points out in her recent article in The Ecologist).

In my view we should oppose the CCS route for prolonging coal-fed BFs, not just for our campaign vs Cumbria coal mine but also in solidarity with those fighting mines internationally. Even if CCS capture rate is 95% or more, some emissions may still occur, and even if hypothetically 100% capture rate – we have an ecological as well as climate emergency – with regards coal mines abroad. Also a 100% capture rate in UK’s 2 integrated steel works would not prevent huge emissions from any coal West Cumbria Mining exports abroad (which would be most of what WCM produces – if the mine is allowed to proceed).

In its strong promotion of CCS it attacks Prof Allwood’s reports such as ‘Steel Arising’ without mentioning it by name. And it also goes against the MPI report that SLACC commissioned. (And against my comments on CCS in my www.bit.ly/steelnews)

Furthermore: CCCuk in their 6th Carbon Budget reports provide government several options of pathways to decarbonise UK’s steel industry, including a compromise pathway with a mix of coke-CCS and EAF, and a higher emissions “tailwinds” pathway with H-DRI and EAF. The “mettle” report thus wishes to rule out the “tailwinds” pathway with its steeper emissions reductions and instead favours the compromised pathway with less emissions reduction. This is in my view totally unacceptable, as it makes it even less likely that we will meet the Paris temperature goals.

On the other hand it strongly makes the good point that government/industry must change/invest in the steel industry for it to survive and thrive and provide jobs. It is unfortunate that it also gives well paid jobs a higher priority than both the climate and ecological crises and goes for a compromise. But compromises cannot be negotiated with the reality physics of climate change.

Sweden provides a much better example as I show in my blogpost Why the Steel industry doesn’t need Cumbria’s coal | henryadamsblog (wordpress.com). And Valentin Vogl shows this too in his Green Alliance blogpost (linked to in ‘Recommended reading’ in my blogpost).
What’s more, in around ten to fifteen years time the UK could purchase coal-free H-DRI from Sweden’s state-owned iron mining and processing company LKAB. This would surely be better for the climate (and probably also cheaper) than importing coking coal and iron ore and using CCS?

So I am strongly against the CCS route as of course it prolongs the use of coal (and would use government-supplied subsidy).
It is possible that CumbriaCC may use the CCS option to justify a need in the UK for their coal beyond 2035, but that would be putting political pressure against government/industry choosing the higher emissions reduction pathway. Also it would obviously be untenable as an argument for them because there’s no way they can influence whether coal to Europe would be to BF’s with CCS. Note that both the “mettle” report and WCM would cause higher emissions than otherwise possible if they get their way.

Since writing the above blogpost I was pleased to read a paper/report published by MPI in March 2021 which argues against the CCS route:
The Materials Processing Institute (MPI) is the steel industry’s research and training body in the UK. MPI’s CEO Chris McDonald states that “In this vital year of COP26, this paper’s ambitious but practical proposal for a DRI-hydrogen, electric arc furnace-based solution would take a decade and help Britain meet all decarbonisation milestones whilst delivering a smooth and just transition for the workforce.”:
DECARBONISATION OF THE STEEL INDUSTRY IN THE UK Toward a mutualised green solution, March 2021 – Chris McDonald CEO MPI & Syndex UK (pdf). I’m very pleased to see this report goes against the the CCS-BF route for the UK and instead favours the H-DR + EAF route (with a transition period of overlap with existing BF’s & H-DRI feeding into BF-BOF: I hope that means less coal input into the BF’s).

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Relevant news items re TATA Port Talbot

20jul20 UK unions to ‘fight’ for blast furnace ironmaking Colin Richardson & Ronan Murphy, Argus Media. “Community Union said moving away from blast furnace production would leave the UK unable to produce “a range of specialist steels”, as well as causing job losses. The government has not asked Tata to move away from blast furnace production, but transitioning to electric arc furnace (EAF) production is the most logical existing technology for reducing carbon emissions.
Historically, blast and basic oxygen furnace steelmaking has produced higher quality grades than EAF-based output. But this has changed in recent years, especially in the US where leading producer Nucor produces a variety of specialist grades for automotive and other industries. Using direct reduced iron enables an EAF to produce the same quality of steel as an integrated plant.
Trade unions in the UK suggest they will not allow the end of blast furnace steel production, after the government asked Tata Steel to reduce its CO2 emissions in return for financial assistance through “project Birch”. …

20jul20 ‘Tata Steel is exploring plans to close its two blast furnaces at Port Talbot and replace them with electric arc furnaces’ – Carbon Brief summary of pieces by The Sunday Times and the FT on this:
“the Sunday Times covers the news that “Tata Steel is exploring plans to close its two blast furnaces at Port Talbot and replace them with electric arc furnaces – risking a showdown with unions at the south Wales steelworks”. It adds: “Tata Steel and sister company Jaguar Land Rover are trying to obtain state support via the Project Birch fund, which was set up to help big, strategically important companies that have been crippled by the Covid-19 pandemic. Under the proposal, which is being studied by the business department, the government would invest alongside Tata, with the conversion of the furnaces starting in 2025. Ministers have placed stringent conditions on Project Birch cash, including demanding that it helps achieve its target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, and that jobs are not lost. However, unions are concerned that the switch could lead to mass unemployment at the site, especially if Port Talbot’s two blast furnaces are not kept open while their electric arc replacements are built. It takes about two years to build an electric arc furnace; they require fewer workers and produce far lower carbon emissions.” The Financial Times also covers the story.”
19jul20 Tata set for fight with unions over ‘green’ steel – Plan to replace blast furnaces at Port Talbot sparks fears over jobs – John Collingridge, The Sunday Times. Tata Steel is exploring plans to close its two blast furnaces at Port Talbot and replace them with electric arc furnaces — risking a showdown with unions at the south Wales steelworks.
The Indian-owned company has put forward the plan to clean up the site’s carbon emissions in an attempt to obtain hundreds of millions of pounds via the government’s Project Birch fund. The vast steelworks, which employs about 3,500 people, is one of just two in Britain capable of turning iron ore and coal into molten iron and steel. Tata Steel and sister company Jaguar Land Rover are trying to obtain state support via the Project Birch fund, which was set up to help big, strategically important companies that have been crippled by the …
FT: Unions fear job losses in Port Talbot electric power plan
20jul20UK unions to ‘fight’ for blast furnace ironmaking Colin Richardson & Ronan Murphy – Argus Media.

UK’s government has a unique opportunity this year as host and President of COP26 to lead by example to encourage other countries to commit to greatly reducing their extraction and consumption of fossil fuels this decade. This is urgently needed to give us a chance of keeping world average temperatures to within the temperature targets zone of the COP21 Paris Climate Agreement. At the moment we are heading to cross +1.5C around 2030 (to 2032), and nations have so far only pledged enough emissions reductions to do little more than prevent the rate of emissions increasing further by 2030, when global emissions have to at least halve by 2030 to delay or stop us crossing +1.5C.

However the UK government is throwing away this vital opportunity by failing to stop (and indeed to support) the proposed coking coal mine in Cumbria, and UK ambassadors are reporting that UK’s argument that the coal is for steelmaking not electricity generation is not being accepted by the countries who criticise Boris Johnson’s failure to stop the mine. I here briefly examine why this argument has no credibility.

Proponents of the Cumbria coal mine argue that UK-produced coal is needed by UK’s steel industry, and some argue there would be a market in Europe too. They use the false assumption that there will be no alternatives to coal for making steel at any significant commercial scale for decades. On the contrary we argue that much of Europe’s steel industry is already committed to reduce its use of coal this decade, and part of this will be by hydrogen replacing coking coal for producing fossil-free steel at commercial scale by 2030. UK steel-making can and must be decarbonised by 2035, or be left behind by the changes in Europe and beyond, that will result in stranded fossil assets here including the coal mine if it’s allowed to start. So the many jobs that the coal mine proponents use as a main political benefit of the coal mine – are unlikely to last for long if they come to exist at all.

Neither UK’s nor Europe’s steelmaking industry need Cumbria’s coking coal. Here’s a brief explanation why.

Firstly WCM plans to export 87% of its coal, and even the 13% for the UK may be halved because of its high (polluting) sulphur content: British Steel Scunthorpe state re WCM’s coal: “the Sulphur is however higher in comparison to comparable US coals we purchase”… “Sulphur is a constraining factor which currently limits the use of the coal.” And TATA Port Talbot can only use it as part of its blend. And there is no world shortage of coking coal. Thus UK’s steel industry has no “need” for WCM’s coal.

Secondly, because steel-making contributes about 7% of the world’s energy-related CO2 emissions due mainly to its use of coal, Europe’s steel-making industry is shifting away from coal to lower carbon alternatives this decade onwards, & UK’s remaining 2 sites that use coking coal & blast furnaces must change too or face closure. Mine objectors are keen for these changes to happen with urgency not just to reduce the huge CO2e emissions but also to save steel jobs and reduce harm to people and environment from coal mines in countries from which the UK imports.

Lord Deben, Chair of UK’s Climate Change Committee, wrote to government’s Robert Jenrick (SoS MHCLG) that “Coking coal use in steelmaking could be displaced completely by 2035, using a combination of hydrogen direct reduction [H-DR] and electric arc furnace [EAF] technology to meet our recommendation that UK ore-based steelmaking be near-zero emissions by 2035.” [Hydrogen can remove the oxygen from the iron oxide in iron ore to result in H20 instead of the CO2 from using coal].

Steel firms in Europe and beyond have committed to significant reductions in carbon emissions this decade in Europe typically by 25 to 30%, and to be carbon neutral by 2050. Sweden is setting an impressive example, with the new H2GS consortium planning to produce 5 million tons per year of ‘green steel’ using H-DR by 2030 starting production in 2024, and SSAB 1 million tons per year from 2025/6 using H-DR, and also replacing 2 blast furnaces with EAFs. For these and other examples see bit.ly/steelnews

The UK exports around 80% of its scrap steel abroad (9Mtpa 2018). (This is more than the amount of crude steel UK produces (7Mtpa 2018) of which c.34% is from scrap). If UK builds more EAFs it could recycle that scrap into steel here using our lower carbon intensity electricity, and if government improved our recycling methods to reduce ‘tramp’ impurities such as copper this would provide jobs as well as higher quality recycled steel. Allwood et al.(2019) state: “UK consumers currently demand around 15 million tonnes per year of steel in final goods.” To put simply: 9+7=16Mtpa and = ~15Mtpa, and thus UK is not far from being potentially self-sufficient in steel with EAFs supplemented with a few H-DRI plants (bear in mind making steel into final goods results in scrap offcuts).

The Materials Processing Institute (MPI) is the steel industry’s research and training body in the UK. MPI’s CEO Chris McDonald states that “In this vital year of COP26, this paper’s ambitious but practical proposal for a DRI-hydrogen, electric arc furnace-based solution would take a decade and help Britain meet all decarbonisation milestones whilst delivering a smooth and just transition for the workforce.” Thus the CCCuk’s “by 2035” target is technically viable. [This paragraph is an update]

In summary – it is both viable and achievable for the UK to save its two sites with blast furnaces by replacing the latter with EAFs and with better recycling, and adding if need-be H-DR plants for the minority of UK’s steel grades for which steel from ore would be better.

So the best method to reduce emissions from shipping coal is to use less coal, not to mine coal here. And anyhow any “savings” in shipping emissions from shorter distances though not small, would only be about 1 to 2% of the size of the huge end-use emissions, thus would be dwarfed by the latter.

The proposed Cumbria mine would at full production add 9 million tonnes CO2e per year to global emissions from its end-use in mills with blast furnaces. That is more than double the emissions per year of Cumbria’s half-million population. These emissions figures are of international importance, and Jenrick’s failure to call in the proposal has already resulted in international criticism. This is damaging UK’s credibility as COP26 President and host, and could lead to weaker commitments to reduce emissions by other nations.

We are currently heading to cross +1.5C roundabout 2030. The UK can and must reduce most of its emissions by 2030, and this can be done with appropriate political will (sadly now lacking).

[Since writing this, on 11th March – the final day of notice from SLACC’s legal team before SLACC would start legal proceedings against him, Jenrick called in the coal mine application for a public inquiry (to start on 7th September)]

Dr Henry Adams, Kendal

(contributor of steel decarb and climate info to SLACC, XRSL, XR Cumbria, FoE, CAN and other objectors to the coalmine)

Recommended further reading:

18mar21 The Materials Processing Institute UK steel industry could expand in transition to Zero Carbon future, report reveals – (mpiuk.com) links to pdf: March 2021 MPI report: SI-Series-Paper-05-Decarbonisation-of-the-Steel-Industry-in-the-UK.pdf (mpiuk.com) I must admit I’m very pleased to see this report goes against the the CCS-BF route for the UK and instead favours the H-DR + EAF route (with a transition period of overlap with existing BF’s & H-DRI feeding into BF-BOF (A Midrex statement implies that DRI inputted to a BF as HBI as part of the charge will decrease the amount of coking coal needed in the charge to reduce iron oxide).

Why Europe doesn’t need Cumbria’s coking coal | Inside track (greenallianceblog.org.uk) by Valentin Vogl who has been studying the decarbonisation of steelmaking for several years at Lund University, Sweden.

Cumbria mine: is there a technical need for new coal mines in the UK? – CREDS – thank you Valentin for tweeting that.

Steel-making news 2020 onwards, focusing on its decarbonisation| henryadamsblog (wordpress.com) bit.ly/steelnews

SLACC’s hub page on Cumbria Coal Mine Campaign – SLACC http://slacc.org.uk/campaigns/cumbria-coal-mine/

References and links ordered as they appear in the text:

Analysis: When might the world exceed 1.5C and 2C of global warming? | Carbon Brief

UN: New national climate pledges will only cut emissions ‘by 2%’ over next decade | Carbon Brief

BEIS Minister Trevelyan blatantly lies in support of the coal mine (video on Tory MP Mark Jenkinson’s Facebook page): www.facebook.com/markianjenkinson/videos/803923733494170

Cumbria coal mine plan ‘damaging PM’s reputation’ – BBC News – Roger Harrabin.

The sulphur issue: See statements (as pdf’s) from British Steel Scunthorpe and TATA Port Talbot on CumbriaCC’s website under tab “Committee Documents”: https://planning.cumbria.gov.uk/Planning/Display/4/17/9007

On saving UK’s steel jobs and UK’s steel industry: A test of mettle: Securing a future for a green UK steel industry (common-wealth.co.uk) Note that although this report makes some good points on the need for urgent change and investment in UK’s steel industry for it to survive and thrive, nonetheless I strongly disagree with the way this report pushes strongly for CCS – which would prolong the use of coal-fed Blast Furnaces (though CCCuk advises fewer coal-fed BF’s towards and beyond 2035 than at present). This report thus argues against the advice in the reports by Professor Allwood and the Materials Processing Institute (MPI), and against the “tailwinds” pathway for UK’s steel industry advised by Committee Climate Change as being the pathway for greater emissions reduction than its very compromised ‘balanced pathway’ (for ‘balanced’ read ‘compromised’ – as regards any likelihood of meeting the Paris Agreements temperature goals). Link to my criticism in full.

On local impacts of coal mining on people and environment (including wildlife).
In context: Young activists fight Cumbrian mine (theecologist.org) – Anne Harris of Coal Action Network.
In more detail: End Coal | Coal Mining

Letter: Deep Coal Mining in the UK – Climate Change Committee (theccc.org.uk) links to pdf:
Lord-Deben-to-Robert-Jenrick-MP-Deep-coal-mining-in-the-UK_290121.pdf (theccc.org.uk)

bit.ly/steelnews = Steel-making news 2020 onwards, focusing on its decarbonisation | henryadamsblog (wordpress.com)
Summarizes and links to statements by for example H2GS and SSAB.

Professor Allwood at al. (2019) report Steel arising pdf p.14: “The UK is a mature steel economy, so has the necessary
resources of annual scrap arisings which will soon be of comparable volume to total final demand for steel in goods.”
A good summary here of ‘Steel Arising’, with other useful comments:
Transition to green steelmaking vital to UK industry’s long-term future, says report | Envirotec (envirotecmagazine.com) 27may19 … “The UK currently demands approximately 15m tonnes per year of steel to supply strategically vital sectors such as construction, car manufacturing and aerospace – and produces approximately 7m tonnes per year domestically. In addition, the country generates more than 10m tonnes of steel scrap every year – but less than 20% is recycled in the UK, with the rest exported mainly to Turkey, India, Spain and Pakistan for processing into relatively low-grade goods.” … “Edwina Hart MBE, Chair of the GREENSTEEL Council which commissioned the report, said: “It’s absurd that we send almost 80% of its scrap steel abroad for recycling when it is a huge – and largely untapped – national resource. The UK steel sector can create thousands of green-collar jobs in parts of the country that need them most, helping the UK to re-establish itself as a leading steelmaking nation, known for our innovation and advanced engineering skills rather than for mass production. …” …”.
Note (by Henry) that UK’s lower carbon intensity electricity than in other nations such as Turkey means that EAF’s in the UK will have lower associated upstream CO2e emissions.

“Instead of transporting coal thousands of kilometres across the ocean or building new coal mines, the UK could take a more forward-thinking approach to steel production, by increasing reuse and recycling and investing in new low carbon steelmaking technologies.” Cumbria mine: is there a technical need for new coal mines in the UK? – CREDS

On WCM emissions: WCM’s half-truth diversionary tactic re shorter shipping distances meaning savings in emissions | henryadamsblog (wordpress.com)

A letter/article emailed to the Westmorland Gazette on 1st March 2021

Bettie Riddell’s letter in WG’s 25feb issue misrepresents objectors to the coal mine on both coal imports and on the best route forwards for UK’s steel industry. Put simply – she and mine supporters push for prolonging coal-based steel-making using UK-produced coal, with the false assumption of no alternatives for decades, whereas we argue that UK steel-making can and must be decarbonised by 2035, or be left behind by changes in Europe and beyond, that will result in stranded fossil assets here.

Firstly WCM plans to export 87% of its coal, and even the 13% for the UK may be halved because of its high (polluting) sulphur content: British Steel Scunthorpe state re WCM’s coal: “the Sulphur is however higher in comparison to comparable US coals we purchase”… “Sulphur is a constraining factor which currently limits the use of the coal.” And TATA Port Talbot can only use it as part of its blend. And there is no world shortage of coking coal. Thus UK’s steel industry has no “need” for WCM’s coal.

Secondly, because steel-making contributes about 7% of the world’s energy-related CO2 emissions due mainly to its use of coal, Europe’s steel-making industry is shifting away from coal to lower carbon alternatives this decade onwards, & UK’s remaining 2 sites that use coking coal & blast furnaces must change too or face closure. Mine objectors are keen for these changes to happen with urgency not just to reduce the huge CO2e emissions but also to save steel jobs and reduce harm to people and environment from coal mines in countries from which the UK imports.

Lord Deben, Chair of UK’s Climate Change Committee, wrote to government’s Robert Jenrick (SoS MHCLG) that “Coking coal use in steelmaking could be displaced completely by 2035, using a combination of hydrogen direct reduction [H-DR] and electric arc furnace [EAF] technology to meet our recommendation that UK ore-based steelmaking be near-zero emissions by 2035.” [Hydrogen can remove the oxygen from the iron oxide in iron ore to result in H20 instead of the CO2 from using coal].

Steel firms in Europe and beyond have committed to significant reductions in carbon emissions this decade in Europe typically by 25 to 30%, and to be carbon neutral by 2050. Sweden is setting an impressive example, with the new H2GS consortium planning to produce 5 million tons per year of ‘green steel’ using H-DR by 2030 starting production in 2024, and SSAB 1 million tons per year from 2025/6 using H-DR, and also replacing 2 blast furnaces with EAFs. For more examples see bit.ly/steelnews

The UK exports around 80% of its scrap steel abroad. If UK builds more EAFs it could recycle that scrap into steel here using our lower carbon intensity electricity, and if government improved our recycling methods to reduce ‘tramp’ impurities such as copper this would provide jobs as well as higher quality recycled steel.

In summary – it is both viable and achievable for the UK to save its two sites with blast furnaces by replacing the latter with EAFs and with better recycling, and adding if need-be H-DR plants for the minority of UK’s steel specs for which steel from ore would be better.

So the best method to reduce emissions from shipping coal is to use less coal, not to mine coal here. And anyhow any “savings” in shipping emissions from shorter distances though not small, would only be about 1 to 2% of the size of the huge end-use emissions, thus would be dwarfed by the latter.

The proposed Cumbria mine would at full production add 9 million tonnes CO2e per year to global emissions from its end-use in mills with blast furnaces. That is more than double the emissions per year of Cumbria’s half-million population. These emissions figures are of international importance, and Jenrick’s failure to call in the proposal has already resulted in international criticism. This is damaging UK’s credibility as COP26 President and host, and could lead to weaker commitments to reduce emissions by other nations.

We are currently heading to cross +1.5C roundabout 2030. The UK can and must reduce most of its emissions by 2030, and this can be done with appropriate political will (sadly now lacking).

Dr Henry Adams, Kendal

(contributor of steel decarb and climate info to SLACC, XRSL, XR Cumbria, FoE, CAN and other objectors to the coalmine)

Follows from my two plus 2020 blog-posts on this subject.

feb21 Sophie Yeo refers to the items below here: Sustainable Agriculture & Ancient Oaks – Inkcap (inkcapjournal.co.uk)

23feb21 Row over UK tree-planting drive: ‘We want the right trees in the right place’ | Trees and forests | The Guardian Patrick Barkham. Refers in part to RSPB’s David Morris.

23feb21 David Morris on Twitter: “Wallshield 2 & why @ForestryComm need to improve things ecologically. A thread 🧵 https://t.co/V5AdYfyKFN” / Twitter – excellent thread by RSPB’s David Morris.

Wallshield 1 & 2: NPA Report Blank for 20 March 2013 (northumberlandnationalpark.org.uk)

ACTIONS:
Stop the Cumbria coal mine! | Global Justice Now – email Robert Jenrick.

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27mar21 Labour’s shadow minister for energy will discuss coal mine in Workington meeting | Whitehaven News

17mar21 ‘Very compelling reasons’ not to open coal mine in Cumbria, minister says | Border | ITV News

13mar21 Latest twist in battle over Cumbria coal mine | News and Star Tom Coleman.

12mar21 Statement on Woodhouse Colliery | Mark Jenkinson (mark-jenkinson.co.uk)

12mar21 BBC Sounds interview Rebecca Willis on coal mine The World Tonight – Serving police officer charged with kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard – BBC Sounds

12mar21 Report: Potential for nearly 10,000 green jobs in Cumbria over next 15 years (businessgreen.com)

12mar21 9,000 green jobs for Cumbria 15 years (and their locations) | News and Star

12mar21 Cumbria mine: what will the public inquiry look at? | Climate change | The Guardian Tommy Greene

12mar21 Green jobs in Cumbria could far surpass posts in coalmine, report says | Coal | The Guardian

12mar21 The Cumbria Coal Mine: Why Climate Change Is A Human Rights Issue | EachOther

12mar21 Cornerstone (cornerstonebarristers.com)

11mar21 Government intervenes in plan for Cumbria coal mine after climate backlash | The Independent Daisy Dunne

11mar21 Robert Jenrick orders public inquiry into Cumbria coalmine | Mining | The Guardian

11mar21 MHCLG letter to Cumbria County Council concerning West Cumbria Coal Mine, Whitehaven, Cumbria (publishing.service.gov.uk)

11mar21 Decision to call-in: West Cumbria Coal Mine – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

11mar21 20210311-FINAL-Call-in-decision-letter-lpa.pdf (slacc.org.uk)

8mar21 UK coal mine: Legal battle heats up as West Cumbria Mining seeks Judicial Review over latest delay to planning approval (businessgreen.com)

7mar21 Whitehaven coal mine firm seeks judicial review of council U-turn – BBC News

3mar21 Trouble at pit? Michael Crick on the controversial return of deep coal mining – The Mail (mailplus.co.uk)

3mar21 Budget lacks urgency needed to tackle the climate crisis | The Independent Daisy Dunne. The coal mine is used as an example by Lab leader.

3mar21 BREAKING: Powering Past Coal Alliance Urges Faster Phaseout While Co-Founders Allow New Coal Mines – The Energy Mix

2mar21 UK accused of ‘rank hypocrisy’ over Cumbria mine as it hosts coal phase-out summit | The Independent Daisy Dunne. Includes comments by Ed Milliband, Tim Farron, Doug Parr, Tony Bosworth.

2mar21 Cancel all planned coal projects globally to end ‘deadly addiction’, says UN chief | Coal | The Guardian Damian Carrington.    All planned coal projects around the world must be cancelled to end the “deadly addiction” to the most polluting fossil fuel, the UN secretary-general António Guterres said on Tuesday.    Phasing out coal from the electricity sector is the single most important step to tackle the climate crisis, he said. Guterres’s call came at the opening of a summit of the Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA), a group of governments and businesses committed to ending coal burning for power.    The PPCA was founded by the UK and Canada in 2017. The UK is on track to end coal burning in power plants in 2024, but it has come under recent pressure for allowing a new coalmine to go ahead in Cumbria, which will produce coking coal for use in steel making. The UK is hosting a vital UN climate summit, Cop26, in November. …

1mar21 Cumbria coal mine plan ‘damaging PM’s reputation’ – BBC News

feb21 Cumbria coal mine’s approval labelled as ‘contemptuous for the future’ by climate scientist | The Westmorland Gazette Alexander Candlin, with quotes of Catherine.

26feb21 Why the west Cumbria coal mine matters in defining who Labour & the Conservatives are now | Border | ITV News Tom Sheldrick

12feb21 Of course Cumbria’s proposed coal mine is popular locally. The government offers no green alternative | openDemocracy Rebekah Diski.

23sep20 Community fight against coal in Cumbria  | Friends of the Earth

22feb21 Government must “plug the carbon gap” in planning policy – DRILL OR DROP?

Sarah Finch, a campaigner who challenged the approval of oil production at Horse Hill in Surrey, has urged the local government secretary, Robert Jenrick, to update planning policy. In a letter, Ms Finch said current policy was hindering the ability to tackle climate change and achieve net zero emissions by 2050. She urged the minister to plug the legal and policy gap.
… She also referred in her letter to Mr Jenrick’s decision not to intervene in the granting of planning permission for a coal mine in Cumbria. Following that decision, Lord Deben, the chair of the Climate Change Committee, asked the government to provide guidance to local authorities on the climate impact of their decisions. He said it was critically important for local councillors and planning authorities to consider fully the implications of their decisions on climate targets.

Labour party hit out at Workington MP over climate “credibility” | Times and Star

https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7126907/take-it-from-a-tory-australia-should-join-the-uk-in-embracing-net-zero/?cs=14246

19feb21 ‘It is a betrayal of younger and future generations’: South Lakes MP calls for Cumbria coal mine plans to be axed | The Westmorland Gazette Eleanor Ovens.

c.18feb21 Cumbria coal mine: What is the controversy about? – BBC News Harrabin – a good overall summary.

Coalmine plans in Cumbria and a false dilemma | Fossil fuels | The Guardian Tim Crosland

18feb21 Cumbria coal mine: Tory MPs urge council to give plans the green light – BBC News Harrabin.

14feb21 ‘I wouldn’t want my son to have to go underground like I had to’: The ex-mining families seeking a greener future | The Independent Daisy Dunne.

12feb21 Of course Cumbria’s proposed coal mine is popular locally. The government offers no green alternative | openDemocracy

9feb21 Whitehaven coal mine plan to be re-examined by council – BBC News Harrabin

Poll: Cumbria coal mine – should plans be scrapped or given the go ahead? | The Engineer The Engineer

30jan21 Climate change: Minister rapped for allowing Cumbria coal mine – BBC News Harrabin re Lord Deben’s letter.

16nov20 Hopes to reduce Cumbria’s carbon footprint | Whitehaven News

25mar19 Revealed: Planned Cumbria coal mine ultimately owned in Cayman Islands | Left Foot Forward: Leading the UK’s progressive debate Joe Lo

I’ve added a suggested variant to the infographic ‘Discourses of climate delay’ as a result of those who claim they support climate action but exaggerate hurdles and timescale for replacing certain uses of fossil fuels. This applies to some proponents of the Cumbria coal mine:

Source references for ‘Discourses of climate delay’:

Guest post: How ‘discourses of delay’ are used to slow climate action (carbonbrief.org)
https://www.carbonbrief.org/guest-post-how-discourses-of-delay-are-used-to-slow-climate-action


Discourses of climate delay | Global Sustainability | Cambridge Core
https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/global-sustainability/article/discourses-of-climate-delay/7B11B722E3E3454BB6212378E32985A7

West Cumbria Mining and its supporters have been continually highlighting the "savings" in CO2e emissions that would result from shorter shipping distances of its coking coal to steel mills in Europe (and the UK) as compared with importing coking coal from abroad such as the US. Although this would be true (if WCM don't export beyond Europe), and those emissions would certainly not be small, nonetheless they are dwarfed by the huge end-use emissions that would result from WCM's coking coal in steel-making via the BF-BOF method. Also AECOM's figure for operational emissions is around three times the size of the shipping emissions savings:

Cumbria County Council claim the mine will be both "carbon neutral" ("broadly neutral in respect of GHG emissions") and even beneficial as regards climate impacts as a result of both emissions savings due to shorter shipping emissions as well as their assumption of 'perfect substitution':
Both these claims require the end-use emissions to be either ignored or counted as net zero as a result of CumbriaCC's core assumption of perfect substitution (i.e. 100% substitution, or very close to 99% to 100%), which means that for every tonne of coking coal WCM extracts, a mine elsewhere will leave exactly the same number of tonnes of the same grade of coal in the ground which it would have otherwise extracted. But it is impossible for CumbriaCC to guarantee their perfect substitution claim, and several respected resource economists (e.g. Professor Paul Ekins, UCL) have written statements arguing that perfect substitution cannot be assumed, and that adding lower cost coal to the European market could dis-incentivise decarbonisation and the switch to alternative steel-making methods that use very little or no coal such as Electric Arc Furnaces and Hydrogen Direct Reduction.

The above chart shows that even if there is 95% substitution (hypothetically) there will still be significant net overall emissions because the shipping savings would only be around 1% to 2% of the end-use emissions. And the UK and Europe have to greatly reduce emissions by 2030 including from steel-making.

Without any evidence of absolute certainty of 99 to 100% global substitution (or of any definite % substitution) there must be a start assumption that the 9 Mt pa CO2e end-use emissions will add to global emissions.

Also bear in mind that CumbriaCC have no legal powers (or monitoring capabilities) to ensure that WCM's coal, once sold to shipping co. Javelin for example) does not go beyond Europe (thus removing any savings in emissions from shorter shipping distances), or indeed is used for other purposes than steel-making. Europe's steel industry is shifting away from coal from the present decade, so if the mine went ahead, WCM or Javelin may wish to export further afield than Europe when demand in Europe declines.

WCM's figures for the amount of coal it plans to export to mainland Europe as compared with that for UK's steel mills shows it intends to export 87% of its coal to mainland Europe. But because WCM coal appears to have too high a sulphur content for British Steel at Scunthorpe*, and BS Scunthorpe produces about half of the steel UK produces from iron ore, that roughly halves the 13% to merely around 6.5%. UK steel production from iron ore thus does not depend on having WCM's coal. There is no global shortage of coking coal. There is no UK need for WCM's coal.

* British Steel Scunthorpe's letter to CumbriaCC states: re WCM coal ..."the Sulphur is however higher in comparison to comparable US coals we purchase"... "Sulphur is a constraining factor which currently limits the use of the coal."

Committee Climate Change in their 6th Carbon Budget show several pathways of differing steepness of carbon emissions reduction from 'tailwinds' (steeper reduction) through 'balanced' (a compromise) to 'headwinds' (less emissions reduction). If WCM's mine goes ahead, by offering cheaper coking coal to TATA Port Talbot it will disincentive a shift to the the tailwinds pathway and result in political lock-in to prolonging use of coking coal in UK. The mine would thus risk causing additional CO2e emissions than otherwise by providing economic and political 'headwind' to reducing CO2e emissions at the steeper rate.

The substitution myth also fails to take into account the fact that H-DRI based 'green steel' using hydrogen instead of coal is highly likely to have significant commercial scale impact in Europe by 2030 and increasingly so from 2030. Also that together with more scrap steel recycled by more EAFs in UK and Europe will also make market inroads. The substitution claim relies on alternatives to coal-based steel being insignificant; but they will increasingly be significant by and beyond 2030. CumbriaCC since mid-2020 has been taking advice from Wardell Armstrong (WA): WA accept the substitution claim - but only if alternative steels to coal-based steel don't have significance in the market...

1mar21 Cumbria mine: is there a technical need for new coal mines in the UK? https://www.creds.ac.uk/cumbria-mine-is-there-a-technical-need-for-new-coal-mines-in-the-uk/ (mostly Leeds University research) ... "This reduction [in shipping emissions] is only 1.8% of the emissions that arise from using that coal in steelmaking." ... << confirms my calculations.

How would the mine relate to UK's path to complying with its 6th Carbon Budget?

29jan21 Update: Climate Change Committee on Twitter: "We've published a letter to Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State, MHCLG, about his decision not to call in, or review, the recent decision of Cumbria County Council to grant planning permission to a new Cumbrian coal mine. More: https://t.co/jHper392tR https://t.co/jVN0I4WLGe" / Twitter

Links to: Letter: Deep Coal Mining in the UK - Climate Change Committee (theccc.org.uk) from which I quote:

Letter: Deep Coal Mining in the UK

1. Outline

This is a letter from Lord Deben, Chairman of the CCC to Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government about the decision not to call in, or review, the recent decision of Cumbria County Council to grant planning permission to a new Cumbrian coal mine.

2. Key messages

  • The opening of a new deep coking coal mine in Cumbria will increase global emissions and have an appreciable impact on the UK’s legally binding carbon budgets. The mine is projected to increase UK emissions by 0.4Mt CO2e per year. This is greater than the level of annual emissions we have projected from all open UK coal mines to 2050.
  • The decision to award planning permission to 2049 will commit the UK to emissions from coking coal, for which there may be no domestic use after 2035. 85% of the coal is planned for export to Europe.
  • It is not the CCC’s role to act as a regulator or a planning authority, but we would urge you to consider further the UK’s policy towards all new coal developments, for whatever purpose.
  • This decision also highlights the critical importance of local councillors and planning authorities considering fully the implications of their decisions on climate targets. In this regard, I would ask that we discuss the provision of guidance to local authorities.
  • It is for Ministers to decide how the effort to reach Net Zero should be allocated across the economy, but it is also important to note that this decision gives a negative impression of the UK’s climate priorities in the year of COP26.

There is also a question as to whether emissions from the mine itself would comply with UK's path to its 6th Carbon Budget. SLACC's lawyer has examined CCCuk's 6th Carbon Budget documents and found the answer would be NO.

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For more information including link to Paul Ekins' statements and letters to CumbriaCC from SLACC and its solicitors see Cumbria Coal Mine Campaign – SLACC

Steel-making news in 2020, focusing on its decarbonisation | henryadamsblog (wordpress.com)

Whitehaven coal mine: Links to relevant news items & publications | henryadamsblog (wordpress.com)

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METHODS detail: The shipping emissions savings here use figures for USA to Europe from which AECOM/WCM figures for WCM coal to Europe have been subtracted (as the US has been used for comparison by WCM).
The 2 UK steel firms using blast furnaces (BFs) for example import coking coal from other parts of the world (probably including Australia) not just the USA. So the "savings" as a % of end-use emissions would be larger if WCM coal replaced Australia coal than US coal.
But WCM's coal would be High Volatile coking coal - which is much more similar to US coking coal than Australia's coking coal. This means that if TATA Port Talbot use some of WCM's coal (about half of 13% of it), then it would be used instead of that amount of US coal not Australia coal. In consequence my calculations use only the US shipping distance savings, and the % figure in my calculations is between 1% and 2%. CumbriaCC also states that it assumes WCM coal would replace US coal not Australia coal for the same reason.